Introduction to The Yoni

The following is an excerpt from my book The Yoni (1996), yet the book's introductory chapter can serve equally well as the motto of the YONIVERSITY Christina and myself present to you on this our YONIVERSE website.

This is a book about one of the world's oldest and most widespread religions, one that curiously enough is never mentioned among lists of the so-called major religions. Once great and encompassing, this religion seems now to be a lost creed, one I believe has been conveniently forgotten because it is a religion that focuses on women and the Goddess, and because it is a religion that incorporates and celebrates sexuality.

Concerning the topic of religious sexuality or sexual religiosity - for some people such a challenging notion as to seem an impossibility - there have been only a few works written, usually by heretics or eccentrics and circulated in limited editions among the 'scientific' community. The major drawback of most of these publications is the fact that they are very much centered on the phallus, so much so that the whole field of study has become known as phallic worship. While several books include short entries about worship directed at the female genitals or worship that focuses on sexual union, these writers call all manner of such veneration phallic worship.

Although many good books about Goddess oriented and Earth-based religions and woman's spirituality have recently been published, a book about the veneration of the Yoni had yet, until now, to be written.

So let me invite you
on a fascinating journey
to the Source of All.

Worship of the Yoni means worship of the Goddess, and worship of woman as the Goddess's living representative. As such this book, seemingly about the most intimate, private aspect of the female anatomy, is about much more than that. In the final analysis, this is a book about women and how they have been regarded in cultures and religious systems of belief that were less patriarchal than are most contemporary ones.

There is an ongoing discussion within the scientific community regarding whether the civilizations of our ancestors were matriarchal in their organization and focus. Although this book does not specifically address that issue, it does give abundant visual and textual evidence suggesting that woman, with her intrinsic energies and her unique powers and potentials, was in civilizations past regarded as superior to man.

Whatever the scientific community may or may not believe, certain facts are beyond doubt. It was woman who was first elevated to divine status when our paleolithic ancestors began thinking and acting along lines that we now regard as "religious" or "spiritual." The burial rites of Neanderthal men and women show the first evidence of religious activity among humans. Their successors, the so-called Cro-Magnon wo/men who spread throughout Europe from about 35,000 BCE, introduced the next stage in the evolution of worship, creating sculptures, engravings, and cave paintings of Divine Woman and the Magical Yoni.

Chapters 1 through 3 trace this development in detail; chapters 4 through 8 show what is left of the worship of Divine Woman, what secretly survived the male uprising during which the desire for equality - inspired by recognition of men's part in procreation - resulted in male domination of all peoples, lands, and systems, a legacy with which we still live.

At some point in history, different in time but common to all continents and most cultures, the Goddess-based religions were either destroyed or forced underground by male-oriented systems. To state it briefly here, the patriarchal religion of Jehovah was the first to destroy a Goddess-oriented religion when the leaders abolished the so-called heathen practices of worshipping the golden calf, a symbol of the Great Cow Goddess of those regions. This denouncement was to be followed several centuries later by the soldiers of Allah, who turned the Arabian people from worshippers of the Triple Goddess into followers of the One God. Similarly, invading hordes of northern Indo-Europeans achieved much the same results in India, Greece, and Crete, while christianized Romans subjugated a range of peoples from Egypt to Ireland.

By rewriting history and mythology, the male leaders established themselves as rulers. Their myths sometimes even claimed that males were able to create - to actually give birth - betraying the fact that this ability was their great envy.

Over the span of a few millennia - and sometimes only centuries - the world was turned around, and male deities, such as the notorious Greek god Zeus, assumed power. With Zeus came heavily armed troops and newly installed priests to enforce his directives.

How absurd it is that our present-day cultures are based on a belief that women are the 'lesser' or 'weaker' of the two sexes. How absolutely ignorant - or perhaps even insane - is the Freudian notion that women should have ever suffered from penis envy when in fact the human male seems to be suffering from yoni envy.

This book shows convincing evidence that woman and her Yoni have been worshipped, openly or in secret, since the beginning of humanity, and that such worship continues to the present day. Today? you may ask, with justified disbelief, Tell me where.

Christina Camphausen: Sacred Triangle Yes, even today, and even in countries where women at large are often treated with more disdain than in the rest of the world. For example, in India and Bangladesh, there exist certain secret schools where woman, the Goddess, and the Yoni are honored not only (as it is so easily interpreted) for the powers of fertility, but even more so for menstruation and for the energies associated with female sexuality.

In a time such as ours, a time in which there is a great need for positive role models on which women, young and old, can draw in their search for a true identity beyond those imposed by patriarchal systems, it is important to know how women have been revered through the ages.

Woman is not a single archetype, although we often speak or write as if such a woman does indeed exist. Instead, woman manifests in thousands of uniquely individual ways; and so it is that we need many more and different role models than have as yet been provided by such best-selling authors as Jean Shinoda Bolen, Merlin Stone, and others. In this book we will encounter archetypes of women from ancient Greece to medieval Tibet, and from ancient Japan to present-day India who were and are deeply aware of their unique sexual powers, free from shame about their bodies and their sexuality. Such women have been leaders and priestesses, regarded by their communities as important teachers and high initiates.

Naturally, such roles are not desired or wanted by all women, and that too is valid. However, in a time when 'political correctness' requires that one deny sexuality as something important, something to fully explore and celebrate, role models of deeply embodied sexuality are seldom discussed, except perhaps in the context of what is known as sacred prostitution.

It is my hope that the information on Yoni worship and the models of spiritually rich and sex-positive women presented in this book will prove inspiring to you.

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Camphausen: The Yoni